Sunday, October 22, 2017

Divrei Torah

Being Tamim in Our Generation

Our sedra begins with a description of the “toldot” of Noach, who is described as an “ish tzadik, tamim haya bedorotav,” a righteous man who was pure in his generation. There, Rashi quotes the famous discussion in the Midrash of whether or not this description is in fact complimentary. On the one hand, one could

Back on Tracks

In our home, we take the custom of eating challah with honey during this time of year very seriously. If having honey is symbolic to having a sweet new year, we aren’t taking any chances of abrogating that symbolism.

In our family, the challenge is to douse the challah with the perfect balance

Hashem, Tear Down This Wall

There is a wonderful idiom that “the walls have ears.” It is interpreted to mean that a speaker should be careful, as someone may be listening. President Trump would appreciate this phrase as he is fond of walls and has been dealing with a cacophony of leakers. However, “pashut pshat” should never be fully ignored.

We Should Accept the Differences in All of Klal Yisrael’s Children

Rebbe Nachman of Breslov tells of a prince who became mad and thought he was a turkey. He felt compelled to sit naked under the table, pecking at bones and pieces of bread like a turkey. All the royal physicians gave up hope of curing him of this madness. The king grieved tremendously.

A sage

The Shofar: From Frustration to Fulfillment

We have all experienced frustration at some point in our lives due to difficulty grasping a concept. As cognitively active beings, mankind must make sense of his environment, and if things don’t add up, tension ensues. For some, the challenge of confusion leads to a more concerted effort to arrive at a sensible conclusion. For the

Inspiration for the Month of Elul

Once again it’s the time of the year we search for inspiration in order to improve aspects of ourselves and our lives. Rosh Chodesh begins the long process extending throughout the month, culminating on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. The wailing sound of the shofar, which is meant to stir our souls and awaken us to grow

Why Does the Bergen-Rockland Eruv Matter to Us?

Editor’s note: This was a drasha delivered by Rabbi Schiowitz at Teaneck’s Congregation Shaare Tefillah on Shabbat, August 19.

 I would like to begin with a yasher koach to members of our community who have been standing in a respectful and compelling manner, opposing the anti-Semitism

‘Tamim Tihiyu Im Hashem Elokecha:’ Be Complete With God

In this week’s parsha, Shoftim, we read about God’s commandment that a person should be “tamim” with God. But what does that mean and how is the obligation satisfied? There are a number of views on the meaning of the word tamim and how to fulfill this obligation.

Onkelos translates the

Let Us Recognize Hashem’s Hand in Our Lives

Tisha B’Av, the most tragic day in the Jewish calendar, is a day full of sadness. We observe the strictest traditions of personal and collective mourning, sit on the floor and read lamentations, remove all of the finer dressings from our synagogues and even do not put on tefillin in the morning—to show our unworthiness to wear

Hard to Swallow: Controversies 

Over Kashrut of Contemporary Toothpaste

May this special post be an ilui neshama (merit for the soul) of my dear mother, Mrs. Joan Maybruch, Yocheved Pesha bat Hillel, z”l, on her yahrzeit.

Is Kosher Toothpaste a Paradox?

Rendering Judgments and Pictures: Looking Beyond the Surface

Parshat Devarim

“Don’t judge a book by its cover” is common wisdom, but the Torah, in this week’s parsha, tells us how to properly judge. The pasuk in Parshat Devarim states, “You shall not favor persons [lit. you shall not recognize a face] in judgment, you shall hear the small just as the

Pinchas: How to Not Be a Bystander

In last week’s parsha, Parshat Balak, we saw how Pinchas assessed a situation and handled it. This week’s parsha, Parshat Pinchas, Pinchas is rewarded with kehuna (priesthood).

And in 2017, we follow in his footsteps by being at the ready to help people who are bleeding, not